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Saudi footballers to be penalized for heavy defeat by Russia

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Members of Saudi Arabia’s national football team will face a disciplinary penalty for their crushing defeat by Russia in the 2018 FIFA World Cup opener, the Al-Youm Assabaa newspaper quoted the Saudi Football Federation chief Adel Ezzat as saying, reported TASS (Russia).

"We are very disappointed by the defeat," Ezzat was quoted as saying. "This result is totally unsatisfactory, because it does not reflect the true level of our preparedness."

"Several players will face a penalty - goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf, striker Mohammad Al-Sahlawi and defender Omar Hawsawi," he added.

Chairman of the General Sport Authority Turki bin Abdulmohsen Al-Sheikh described the game as a "total fiasco" in a video address, posted on his Twitter page.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicked off on Thursday with the opening match in the Russian capital of Moscow between hosts Russia and the national team from Saudi Arabia, which Russia won 5:0.

In its next game, Saudi Arabia is facing Uruguay in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don on June 20.

Coach, Juan Antonio Pizzi was at a loss to explain why his side fluffed their lines on their big opening night, insisting he did not see that result or performance coming after such an encouraging buildup to the tournament.

“I believe that we have arrived here well prepared,” said Pizzi. “We have been preparing for this and my players have shown they are ready to play a World Cup. I can only say what I have said before: This game cannot be the reference. It’s true we have not done what we came here to do. We have not done what we have done in previous matches that gave us good results.”

Inevitably, Pizzi was asked about his future, particularly in light of the fact that SAFF sacked Carlos Alberto Parreira midway through the 1998 tournament.

“That is a very pertinent question and a great one given how I feel right now,” said Pizzi who only took over in November. “Listen, I have my own philosophy and try to do things the best I can and try to convey it the best I can. Everything I do, I do giving my all. There are certain situations I cannot control — I cannot control that. I have trust in my players and fully trust that we will have a better performance during the next game.”

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